Maldives beats revised forecast, welcomes record 1.67 mln tourists in 2019

Maldives concluded 2019 with a record 1.67 million tourists, surpassing the destination’s own revised forecast for the year, the official tourism promotion body has announced.

Government had in June revised its forecast for the number of tourists visiting the island nation in 2019, increasing the estimate to a record 1.6 million.

The Maldives had in November welcomed the 1.5 millionth tourist of the year, reaching the destination’s initial target for tourist arrivals for the year 38 days ahead of schedule.

At a ceremony held at the main Velana International Airport Tuesday morning to welcome the first tourist of 2020, Thoyyib Mohamed, Managing Director of Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) said tourist arrivals reached a record 1.67 million by year-end.

“We are satisfied with the marketing activities we did last year. I expect to see the outcome of those activities in the coming days. We are targeting to achieve more in 2020,” Thoyyib said.

In 2019, MMPRC carried out more than 130 events, including fairs, roadshows, media fam trips and joint campaigns, to facilitate in achieving the arrival numbers target.

The Maldives welcomed 1.4 million tourists in 2018. It was a 6.8 per cent increase from the 1,389,542 tourists that chose to holiday in the Maldives in 2017.

Meanwhile, the government has announced an ambitious target of attracting at least two million tourists to the popular Indian Ocean holiday destination in 2020.

The government aims to attract 2.5 million tourist arrivals per year by the end of its first five-year term in 2023.

To achieve this target, the government had added MVR 50 million (USD 3.23 million) to the annual marketing budget of the tourism ministry.

In the state budget for 2020, the government had allocated MVR 154.2 million (USD 9.98 million) for tourism promotion — up from the MVR 104.2 million (USD 6.7 million) in 2019, and MVR 34.73 million (USD 2.2 million) each in 2018 and 2017.

However, challenges remain as the world-famous holiday destination struggles to match demand with a rapid increase in bed capacity.

Over the past few years, dozens of uninhabited islands have been leased to local and foreign resort developers. Several international brands have entered into the market, increasing the number of resorts to more than 150. That number is set to increase as another 20 resorts are expected to open over the next two years.

Along with the new resort openings come the challenge of increasing demand from budget travellers who choose guesthouses over luxury resorts that the Maldives is known for. The guesthouse sector has rapidly expanded with over 500 guesthouses in operation today.

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